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Student vows gain of full vote on Balto. Co. school board


John A. Olszewski, a Sparrows Point High School senior and the student member of the Baltimore County Board of Education, might be forced to continue lobbying for full voting rights from his college dorm room.

Change won't occur soon enough for Olszewski. A vote on the matter by the school board is at least two weeks away.

Introduction of legislation to change current law, which relegates the student member to an advisory position, pending special permission, would have to wait until early next year.

Olszewski, who is 17, graduates from Sparrows Point next month.

Still, Olszewski, son of Dundalk Democratic County Councilman John Olszewski Sr., seems unfazed by bureaucratic barriers. At last night's board meeting, he vowed to keep up the fight, even if it means from the audience. "If it's something the board doesn't want then it's the end of it for me," he said. "But if it's something you will support, then I will work with the new student member to see it to the [Maryland] legislature."

Olszewski's request isn't without precedence.

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education decided to grant full voting rights to its student member in the 1970s. It is the only school board in the nation with a student member who is allowed to vote on matters such as school boundaries and real-estate negotiations, according to the Chesapeake Regional Association of School Councils.

Olszewski and other students, including Ciara DiSeta, a senior at Kenwood High School and president of the Baltimore County Student Councils, want Baltimore County to be the second. They're hopeful they can persuade others to support the change.

Said DiSeta to the board members at yesterday's meeting: "I hope that you will look at all aspects before you vote."

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